Dear Laurence Families,
I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of summer! We have been busy at Laurence with four fun-filled weeks of camp, a brand new August Sports Camp, planning exciting curriculum for the new year, and lots of campus upgrades! When you come back to campus, be sure to check out our remodeled art studio, 5th and 6th Grade classrooms, and the administration building. I am beyond excited for the start of the 2018-19 school year, as we celebrate 65 years of Laurence School! The first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year! Our community is so special and our culture is very unique, and when we all arrive back on campus, the energy in the air is incredible. We are optimistic and grateful, and everyone – teachers, staff, parents, students – is all in, all the time!
The summer months provide important time for the administration and faculty to reflect on our programs, to determine how we can deepen learning and continue to meet the needs of our students. We remain focused on developing students with the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Mastering core subject areas is no longer sufficient to compete in our global society and ever-changing economy. Students must also be strong in the areas of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Also critical for our students' success is that they have cultural competency.
Cultural competency is defined as "critical and comparative thinking, self-awareness and appreciation of different points of view, and the ability to collaborate, to listen, and to speak and think in an inclusive manner...essential skills for communicating and understanding diverse perspectives." ("Cultural Competency Is Not a 'Soft' Skill," by Kyle Redford, Education Week Teacher, July 12, 2017.) Moving forward, we will be emphasizing cultural competency in our curriculum and expanding our global education program to continue to delve into diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
This summer, as a community, we read the book Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, by Claude Steele, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. I encourage you to read Dr. Steele's book, and join us when he visits Laurence as part of our Parent Education Series later this school year. Read more about the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in Liz Silverman's article. To learn more about our 2018-19 Parent Education Series speakers, click here.
As we came together this summer to determine our character education theme for the year, we felt strongly that there was much more work to be done with Keep Kind in Mind: Solve and Evolve. In 2018-19, we will continue to go deeper with the Solve and Evolve theme, as we teach our students (and ourselves) how to take accountability, stop finger-pointing, and to move beyond talking about problems and arriving at real solutions.
I have some very exciting news to share with you. I am thrilled to announce that Laurence recently received a seven-year accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the highest accreditation term given! To read more about some of our "Notable Strengths" as determined by CAIS, click here.
While wrapping up the reflective process of our self-study, we have also been hard at work developing a new strategic plan, which we will be rolling out to you in the fall. This new plan will guide the future of Laurence over the next five years, providing a roadmap for our community and its fulfillment of the school's mission. Underpinning the plan is our commitment to maintaining the heart and soul of Laurence with our rich traditions and strong academic, enrichment and character education programs. At the same time, the plan focuses on how Laurence will evolve and move forward with an inspirational vision for how we can continue to provide the best possible elementary school environment to prepare students for 21st century success.
Our plan focuses on six core areas – Teaching and Learning; Character Education and Leadership; Innovation and Technology; Campus; Community; and Financial Sustainability – each of these represents a critical aspect of our school's continued success and growth. During the strategic planning process, we also had the opportunity to define and re-affirm our school's core values – or as we called them, "Total Child" Values. To read more about our core values, click here.
You will hear more about the plan in greater detail in the coming months. Thank you to our supportive community of parents, students, Trustees, PA leaders, faculty, staff, and alumni, for your dedication to our school, and for helping us move these strategic processes forward.
I am incredibly proud of our school and its wonderful community, and I know that we are going to have an extraordinary year, as we celebrate 65 years of Laurence.
Thank you for entrusting us with your children's education and for being dynamic and giving members of our Laurence community. I look forward to seeing you soon! My door is always open to you.